Mobile search is constantly evolving and technology executives’ predictions from years ago are coming true: smartphones are starting to surpass PCs and both search and the internet have had to adjust to become “mobile-first”. With the billions of mobile devices used worldwide, they’re present at every pivot of the daily minutiae users don’t dwell on but are worth hundreds of millions (if not billions) to marketers and purveyors of mobile ad tech: deciding where to eat lunch, looking up a random fact in the middle of the night, or buying new clothes among other things. Ergo, mobile search has gone from a tiny niche to a necessity for organizations of all sizes.
In bringing 2016 to a close, here’s some of the latest developments in mobile search and what we can expect to see in 2017.
Content is still king, but maturing alongside mobile search.
Content marketing is slated to become a $300 billion industry by 2019. Millions of pieces of content are created every day to help brands tell their stories and reel in people searching for answers to burning questions or simply wanting to be entertained. Come 2017, the intent of your content is going to be a major determinant of your SEO strategy rather than deftly planting the right long-tail keywords into blog posts and video descriptions.
Mobile is also changing the way that content is delivered. Search is bringing people to mobile versions of websites, but content is also being delivered by app either through push notifications or email to keep users interested. For web-based content, content may need to be more “bite-sized” compared to traditional blog posts as constant device use can short out attention spans. Content itself must evolve right alongside the way it’s delivered.
Nevertheless, as search engines are shifting to a mobile-first culture mobile SEO and content marketing are maturing side-by-side. The reality that content is more likely to be viewed on a mobile device instead of a computer has set in: content delivers the best long-term value, and mobile-optimized content is going to be at the top of marketers’ agendas for 2017.
As a result of more searches being done on mobile than desktop, Google has developed a mobile-first index.
Just this November, Google began testing a mobile-first index where the mobile versions of websites are considered the “primary” webpage for search ranking purposes. The desktop version of your website is considered the default as well as what Google looks at when evaluating page ranking. Now that it’s official that mobile search outranks PC search on a daily basis, the time for a mobile-first index has definitely arrived.
With this index, Google will now look at mobile versions first if you have a mobile site. They have also published a list of recommendations to help prepare for this shift, as sites that have different configurations for both versions will need to make important updates to get a proper evaluation and indexing. However, responsive and dynamic serving sites will not need to make any changes.
Cross-channel marketing needs to take advantage of those micro-moments and minutiae present in mobile users.
Multi-channel marketing is nothing new. Cross-channel marketing is the evolution of multi-channel in the mobile age because the same user is likely to have at least 2-3 actual devices. In 2017, cross-channel marketing will need to go beyond just showing mobile ads to a targeted audience based on what they’ve searched for. How are brands going to form a consistent presence across those devices and get users to convert?
It boils down to the types of searches users perform on each device. Google has broken down the four main types of mobile searches into a user wanting to know, go, do, or buy something. For instance, “near me” searches have doubled from 2015 to 2016. Where are all of those devices being used? The location nearest to them can dynamically shift on all devices, or just the phone only. Will that tablet that never leaves home or the office show the user an ad for that restaurant they wound up not visiting? It’s looking likely in 2017.